IT'S INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

It's International Literacy Day today! Can you imagine not being able to read or write? I certainly can't! Yet the sad reality is that millions of people in poverty are illiterate. Why is literacy so important? There are so many reasons that literacy is important, but I'm going to give you three.

For one, literacy is important because it helps people unlock their full potential. 

So many people are kept in the clutches of poverty simply because they cannot read or write. Without literacy, they cannot get better jobs to support themselves and their families. And without better jobs, many families find themselves unable to send their children to school, which contributes to the cycle of illiteracy. Literacy is important not only for individuals caught in this cycle, but also whole societies. 


Literacy helps people unlock their full potential and rise above this cycle. Let's look at the United States for example. Back in the day, when colonists were coming from Europe to the New World, they put an emphasis on education for the common people. They broke the mold of illiteracy that had been the social norm in Europe. And guess what? America grew to be a strong, prosperous nation with many citizens that have made an impact on the world today. That's the power of a good education, my friends.

Secondly, literacy is important because it brings joy and helps people dream

Can you imagine not being able to pick up a book and read? Not knowing how to write your own name? Looking at this blog post and wondering what in the world all of these letters meant? Think of all of the joy from reading and writing that would be taken away! Think of all of the places you wouldn't visit through reading, the people you wouldn't meet, the things you wouldn't learn. Think of the dreams that wouldn't be there... Imagine all of the kids who don't have the joy and the dreams that we have all because they can't read or write. It's heartbreaking to me, an avid reader and writer. I have a hard time imagining this reality.


Not only that, but literacy helps decrease the risk of human trafficking and exploitation. Have you noticed something? Poverty is something that greatly contributes to illiteracy. But armed with literacy, people in poverty can rise above the risks that come from human trafficking and exploitation. They can better themselves with literacy, which in turn can help get them out of poverty. I could go on about this, friends.

That's the power of words in a nutshell. So now what can we do? How can we help break the chains of illiteracy? For one, we can join together and pray. Pray that people all over the world will be able to gain literacy skills. Prayer is one of the most important things we can join together in.


Secondly, we can help break the cycle of poverty that also keeps people mired in illiteracy. Great Christian organizations such as Compassion International and Amazima Ministries help educate children not only to read and write, but also provide material needs (such as food and medical attention) and, most importantly, the Gospel. Supporting ministries such as these helps educate children and breaks this cycle of poverty and illiteracy.

These are just some of the ways we can break the cycle of illiteracy. Let's go change the world, my friends. <3

Below is a list of the sources I used while writing this blog post: 
Compassion International "International Literacy Day" https://www.compassion.com/world-days/international-literacy-day.htm
Compassion International "Effects of Poverty on Children" https://www.compassion.com/poverty/effects-of-poverty-on-children.htm 
Project Literacy https://www.projectliteracy.com/you-wont-believe-how-many-people-cant-read-sentence


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! Do you have any ideas as to how we can help stomp out illiteracy?   

What Am I? ~ A Shakespearean Sonnet

Friday, August 31, 2018


Sometimes when I am left to ponder,

The roll of the clouds, the glow of the moon, the soar of an eagle, the height of the sky, 

I, like a child, can't help but wonder, 

In all of this, what am I? 


The roar of the storm, the ocean wide,

Spirals of rock, evergreens, ethereal flowers and mountain kings, 

A bow of color in the sky, the ebb and flow of the passing tide,

What am I, amidst all of this creation that sings


The yawn of a canyon, the crescendo of light, 

Scampering does, skittering leaves, fluttering birds, towering trees,

The dance of stars in a dark blue night,

What am I, amidst all of these? 


Perhaps it is not what I am that I should dwell on, nor on all of this majesty,
But rather, on the hands that made all of this, and me

Guest Post By Tessa Emily Hall: Can Our "Imperfections" Further Our God-Given Calling?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I'm super excited to be hosting Tessa Emily Hall of Christ Is Write here on Notebooks and Novels today! Her next first devotional for teens, Coffee Shop Devos, releases next month, and I cannot WAIT to get my hands on a copy! =D 

About Coffee Shop Devos

There's something special about spending time at a coffee shop with a friend--engaging in a meaningful conversation, then leaving refueled and ready to tackle the rest of the day. What if your quiet times with God energized you the same way?

Coffee Shop Devos offers a warm atmosphere that will inspire you to discover your God-given purpose and live to your greatest potential. Choose your devo flavor in the Menu of Contents based on your current need. Then lean into deeper intimacy with Christ through reflection and prayer. Along the way, you'll pick up tips and recipes for making your own coffee-shop beverage--regular or decaf--to enjoy while you read. And don't forget to share your journey with your friends! #CoffeeShopDevos

Each of the 180 challenging and motivational devotions will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated--almost as though you've shared a steaming pot of brew at a coffee shop with your Creator.


Click here to pre-order Coffee Shop Devos on Amazon.
Click here to mark Coffee Shop Devos as "to read" on Goodreads.

Doesn't it look fantastic? I'm excited to get to read it! =D But for now, I'm happy to get to read this lovely guest post that Tessa wrote. It's not only encouraging, but it is also a challenge for us to discover who God made us to be and what He put us on this earth to do. I'm excited to get to share this with you all! =) Happy reading! 


Have you ever felt different from others your age? Maybe you’re not into the same hobbies your friends are into. Perhaps you’re not as social, don’t have as many followers on social media, or don’t care about shopping.

This is how I felt in middle and high school. Like I stood out. Like I was the only introverted girl my age—the only one who preferred to stay at home on the weekends and write rather than hang out with friends.

I felt like something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I fit in?

The thing is--I didn’t want to fit in. I didn’t want to become someone that I wasn’t just so I could receive acceptance. Yet even this made me feel as though I needed to be “fixed”.

It wasn’t until I grew closer in my relationship with Christ that my desire to receive approval from man began to fade. It wasn’t until then that the truth laid out in Psalms 139:13-16--which says that every detail of myself was selected with a purpose--that I began to accept who I am. And during this time, I had a realization:

My “imperfections”--what I once thought were flaws--are actually the very traits God will use to further my calling. 

You see, the enemy doesn’t want me to love who I am. Instead, he wants me to resent the very aspects about myself that God views as beautiful. Why? Because he wants me to refrain from embracing my potential and pursuing my calling. A calling that could result in the furthering of God’s Kingdom. 


But now that I’ve learned this tactic, I can allow God to transform these “flaws” into strengths. Just as He originally intended. No, not even so I can gain human acceptance--but so I can play my role in building the Body of Christ. So I can tap into my fullest potential and pursue my calling.

Does this mean perhaps God created each of us in a way that could aid us in pursuing our unique path? Does this mean He gave us our personality, strengths, gifts, desires—and, yes, quirks—for a reason?

I believe so. I believe He purposely crafted each us differently so we could contribute to the work of His Body (The Church) in various ways. He wants to send His message throughout the ends of the earth, and we are His hands and His feet (1 Corin. 12:12). The way He formed us is directly correlated with how He wants us to further His ministry on earth.

What I once viewed as a weakness — being introverted — was actually a God-given strength to help me fulfill my calling: writing. If I wasn’t an introvert then I wouldn’t have the ability to stay quiet and observe in a social setting. I would also probably go crazy if I had to stay at home and write for hours on end!

What is it God has called you to pursue? You might not know the entire picture, but perhaps you have an understanding how you’re different. You’re familiar with your personality type. You understand your various strengths and interests. What if these unique facets that make up you are arrows pointing you toward your unique calling—or at least hints that could give you a glimpse into what He might want you to accomplish on this earth?

My challenge to youSpend time with God today. Ask Him to help you accept every part of who you are--yes, even the “flaws”. Then, see if He reveals ways you can begin to tap into your potential and pursue your unique path.


About Tessa


Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books to show teens they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, will release with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa's passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PURSUE Magazine. She's guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating art journals, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.

Visit Tessa on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and subscribe to her mailing list


What is one of your "imperfections" that could be pointing to your God-given calling? What's your favorite coffee shop drink? 

THREE ROMANCE CLICHES THAT DRIVE ME CRAZY

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Ah, romance in YA. I've got a serious love-hate relationship with it. On one hand, all of the cute moments in YA romance that send me squealing into a pillow have me hungry for more. But on the other hand, one of the things that drives me crazy about YA romance is the sheer number of clichés I've read. Some of the clichés drive me crazier than others, and yet some I find myself asking for more of.*

Without further ado, here are three romance clichés that drive me crazy.

*I would like to note that I have seen instances in which these clichés were "freshened up" rather beautifully, but these cases are very rare for me personally. 
Insta-Love <3
"And then their eyes met from across the room and they just knew that they were meant for each other..." It wouldn't be entirely untruthful to nickname the cliché of "insta-love" as "Disney-love." After all, nearly every Disney princess movie has moments of insta-love (although in Frozen, this cliché is flipped beautifully). 

Yes, attraction happens, but falling in love with someone in a matter of minutes is utterly ridiculous. 

This idea of "love at first sight" is not only unrealistic, but it also is super shallow (and not the smartest thing in real life, if you know what I mean). Who falls in love with someone after a glance from across a coffee shop or a quick conversation about the book you're reading? How can you know it's really love if all you know about the guy is that he has icy blue eyes and a baseball cap? 

Love Triangles <3
Newsflash: LOVE TRIANGLES ARE KINDA DONE. If I have to pick up another book with a love triangle in it, I might cry. Yes, love triangles can be done well (it's possible!), but honestly, we've seen it a thousand times before. Nothing seems to have changed. It's so easy to figure out which guy the girl is going to pick! 

Not only are love triangles super predictable, but they add weak (unneeded!) tension to the plot. 


There have been books I've read that have love triangles in them just to have love triangles. The love triangle adds nothing substantial to the plot. In some cases, all of that unneeded baggage about which boy the main character is going to the dance with can take away from the story. I don't want to know about Suzy's inner turmoil about Eddie and Bob. I want to care about something more than the love triangle in a book and see something more original, something more real. 

Insecure Girl Meets Gorgeous Boy <3
This cliché is so common it's not even funny. We go from a main character thinking that nobody loves them to suddenly meeting their "true love" and then suddenly having extremely high self-esteem levels. In this cliché, characters feel worthless without their love interest. But when Prince Charming comes along, the mirror is no longer as harsh. The critics' voices become muted. They're happier. They're content. They feel worth something, now that someone so wonderful loves them. 

This is cute, but isn't this cliché teaching readers to find their worth in what others think of them? 

Instead of encouraging readers to find their worth in what the Lord thinks of them and the beautiful people He made them to be, this cliché teaches readers that their worth comes from having a Prince Charming to tell them how lovely they are. Truthfully, our worth comes from the God who created us and loves us more than we can imagine, not a tall, dark and handsome guy. 


What do you think? Do any of these clichés drive YOU crazy? Have you seen any examples of these three clichés that you liked? 

DEAR JAMIE, LOVE RORY BLOG PARTY WRAP-UP + GIVEAWAY WINNER

Thursday, August 9, 2018

I can't believe that the celebration for the release of my short story "Dear Jamie, Love Rory" is over! It was such a fun one though. THANK YOU SO MUCH, dear readers for helping make it extra special! <3 Before we continue, here's a quick recap of what's happened during the party...




And now, without further ado, the giveaway winner is... Jeanette!

Congratulations, Jeanette! You should receive an email from me sometime soon about your prize. =) I can't wait until you receive it! Once again, thank you all for celebrating with me! I hope you'll stop by next week for more bookishness here at Notebooks and Novels. =)

Click here to buy "Dear Jamie, Love Rory" in print and see more fun extras. 
Click here to buy "Dear Jamie, Love Rory" on Kindle. 
Click here to subscribe to One Teen Story. 


Have you read "Dear Jamie, Love Rory" yet? Which of the blog party posts was your favorite? 

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